Welcome to the New Year and the ritualistic commitment to making positive change. January is an appropriate time to start fresh, since the year yawns before us with clean, white pages, waiting to be filled with a new life chapter.
To help write that story for ourselves, we can turn to great movies that inspire and motivate us. Here is our list of films ripe with the stuff that kept resolutions are made of. (Note: there will be no gorgeous scenes of food. Count on us to get you all the way to bathing suit season.)
Finish Old Business: Casablanca (1942)
It may happen by accident, but any opportunity to resolve mysteries, say what you always wanted to say, and get on with your life should be seized without reservation. “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine,” says Rick (Humphrey Bogart). This doesn’t just happen in Casablanca, so be ready when she or he walks into your gin joint.
Get in Shape: Rocky (1976)
You don’t have to punch sides of raw beef to mimic Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) as he prepares for the ultimate underdog fight against heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Do, however, square your shoulders with his determination. The speed bag is for anyone with a healthy worship for taut triceps, but even a treadmill is good for tone — and the old ticker!
Take Time Off: Oblomov (1980)
Got burnout? Let 19th century Russian landowner Ilya Ilyich Oblomov show you how to rest up. Conducting his entire life from bed — for years — Oblomov elevates slothfulness to an art form. But the movie is not as static as it sounds. Sometimes Oblomov lies on a couch. A piercing look at how, or whether, to do nothing. Certainly a bit of re-charging is a good thing.
Increase Income: Wall Street (1987)
“Greed is good,” said investment lizard Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas). We’d rein that in a bit by saying that getting paid what you're worth is really the point. Nonetheless, for anyone looking to calibrate a new financial picture, start here. But don’t forget: money can’t buy you love.
Start Your Own Business: Jerry Maguire (1996)
Had it with “The Man?” You may be one mission statement away from walking out the door and taking, well, maybe one employee with you. But she just might be the overlooked diamond that can save your life. And sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) did it without Kickstarter or LinkedIn. Imagine that.
Quit Smoking: The Insider (1999)
When tobacco industry whistle blower Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) brings his story to “60 Minutes” producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), the underhanded methods of the cigarette industry get exposed in a glaring light. Gutsy, moving, powerful, “The Insider” is a good first step towards kicking the habit. (But really, how much more encouragement do you need?)
Make a Difference: An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
There’s a big problem called climate change you’d like to help address, and former Vice President Al Gore’s gripping slideshow, adapted for the screen, can show you the way. This thorough, lucid examination of global warming shows how one prominent, impassioned voice can convert skeptics to activists. Even if not everyone agrees, “Truth” provides serious and sobering food for thought.
Get Over an Old Flame: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Don’t bring last year’s breakup into this year’s realm of possibility. For help getting past romantic loss, turn to these two unlikely life coaches: the mentally fragile pair of Patrick (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Model citizens they ain't, but their hearts beat strongly. Competing in dance-offs is optional, but hey, it certainly couldn’t hurt.